New York Mets Archive: October 2010

'Last Play At Shea' in theaters now

October, 31, 2010
Relax, this has nothing to do with Ryan Church.

In July 2008, Billy Joel played the final two concerts in the Mets' former home. A documentary about those shows, "Last Play at Shea," a currently in wide release. The film, which previously was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival and at Citi Field, is showing at Cinema Village and AMC Empire 25 in Manhattan, and at theaters on Long Island and in Westchester, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Rheingold will not be served in any of these venues, so far as we know. On the plus side, you won't have to fight traffic on the Grand Central to get there.

Video: Mets introduce Alderson

October, 29, 2010

The Mets introduced former Padres/A's executive Sandy Alderson as the new general manager on Friday.

Alderson, owners talking points

October, 29, 2010

AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek
Sandy Alderson poses with Citi Field as a backdrop after his introductory news conference.

Here are major topics from Sandy Alderson's nearly half-hour conversation with reporters after the formal news conference, and an equally lengthy session with Fred and Jeff Wilpon:

Kirby Lee/US Presswire
The Wilpons said GM finalist Josh Byrnes (above) lost out to Sandy Alderson only because he's 22 years younger.

GM Search. Fred Wilpon insisted the process was open, not a foregone conclusion from the outset, and that commissioner Bud Selig advocated both finalists -- former Arizona Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes and Alderson. The Mets' principal owner added that the deciding factor in choosing Alderson was his 22 more years of life and professional experience compared with the 40-year-old Byrnes'.

"Contrary to what people said, this was a process," Fred Wilpon said. "I think Jeff framed with John Ricco the process very well. [Team president] Saul [Katz] and I then joined Jeff. There wasn't a slam dunk. The other finalist was a very, very good prospect. Interestingly enough, Bud had a recommendation of both. He knew both people very well."

"As I told Josh when I called him after we made the decision, nothing he did he could have done better, except maybe be born 20 years earlier," Jeff Wilpon said about Byrnes. "That 20 years that Sandy has on him was sort of the deciding factor."

Specific to Alderson, who received a four-year contract with a club option for 2015, Fred Wilpon agreed the Mets may not have had a GM with his clout since 1986 architect Frank Cashen.

"It's nice to have articulation like that," he said. "He has ideas and he's able to express that. That's good. ... I know Sandy for over 30 years. I think in 1981 we met. I've seen him in a lot of different places, a lot of different ways."

Front-office team and manager. Alderson said he hopes to have that all resolved within 30 days. He hopes to make one or two front-office hires. Ricco will stay in the same assistant GM role.

The Wilpons handed Alderson a list of managerial candidates other GM interviewees mentioned as well, and the group pared the full list to 12-15 on Friday morning. Interviews may begin next week. Some first-round interviews may just be phone conversations.

As for the manager's qualities, Alderson alluded to his "Moneyball" quote about the skipper being a middle manager who should implement front-office philosophy.

"I know there's been some discussion about the three paragraphs in Moneyball that relate to me," Alderson said. "I do believe, just putting it in a broader context, that a manager needs to reflect the general philosophy of the organization. That's important not just for a manager. That's important for a player-development system. It's important for every element of a baseball operation to have some sense of consistency of approach, of philosophy. ...

"At the same time, the manager is a very critical part of the overall leadership structure. His job is very different from mine, it's very different from the director of scouting, etc. There are certain qualities that he has to bring. I have in my years worked with managers ranging from a Tony La Russa to a Billy Martin. So I can appreciate a fiery manager. And I think a fiery manager is actually quite desirable. I think that in some cases a manager is not only representing an organization, but the fans in maybe frustrating situations and acts as a proxy for all of us. ...

"I also think it's important for a manager to be somewhat analytical, but at the same time occasionally and sometimes often intuitive. We're looking for somebody that is right for our situation. What is our situation? You start with the fact that it's New York City. ...

"We're looking for somebody that fits intellectual requirements, but also intuitive and emotional ones. That manager may have experience, may not have experience at the major league level. We're very open-minded about it at this point. But I do want to emphasize that whoever is selected is going to be the manager and making those decisions and needs to have a certain level of independence in order to accomplish what he needs to accomplish."

Scott Rovak/US Presswire
Sandy Alderson says it's "unlikely" the Mets will be aggressive in free agency this offseason, so forget Cliff Lee.

Budget/roster implications. Alderson and Jeff Wilpon both acknowleged there is very little wiggle room going into 2011 -- "Will we be in the market this year aggressively? Unlikely," Alderson said -- so free agency will not be a major part of this offseason. Still, no one articulated that 2011 is a rebuilding year.

"We have to have some more conversation with him, but I assume we're close to the maximum," Jeff Wilpon said about the budget. "And I don't think he would recommend, and hasn't recommended, going above that right now."

Still, the new GM said, he couldn't forecast the amount of roster turnover. One of his primary tasks will be determining other teams' level of interest in Mets players.

"I think we're going to be busy, but that's first and maybe ultimately only to assess the market," Alderson said. "We don't really know what's out there. We need to be actively engaged in finding out what's available to us, who has interest in some of our players, and just assess things as we develop more information. But right now it would be hard to say how active we're going to be in actual transactions. But we're going to be out there fishing."

Alderson wants to gain that payroll flexibility for future offseasons, and questioned the wisdom of longer-term deals to already veteran players. And, he mentioned, that philosophy doesn't pertain just to years of contracts. No-trade clauses also have to be given judiciously, for example, because "elements of multi-year contracts can make them better or worse."

Said Alderson: "I would differeniate between, let's call it, a first-generation multi-year contract and a second-generation multi-year contract. I'd much rather sign a player who's got maybe two years' or three years' experience to a four- or five-year contract than a player who's got six or seven years' and sign him to a five- or six- or seven-year contract. That's just looking at the reality of the situation. Now, in some cases you'll do it. But the track record on multi-year contracts isn't all that great. But, look, we're going to be in that market. We're going to sign some. But that's going to put a premium on getting it right."

Military service: "I entered the Marine Corps in 1969," Alderson said. "I went to basic school, which all officers attend. That was until the end of '69. I went to language school in Monterey, Calif., for Vietnamese. I studied Vietnamese for eight months. I went to Vietnam with the First Marine Division. I was there for eight months when they pulled us all out. I was only there eight months. I came back to Marine Barracks in Washington, where I was the C.O. of what was called a special ceremonial platoon. So I had a drill team and we went all over the country. Then I got out in '73 and went to law school."

Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Homegrown players such as Ike Davis are essential to a franchise of any size, according to Alderson, because fans love players from the system, and because of the lower cost.

Player development. Alderson strongly believes in building from within -- partially because of the economics, partially because those are the players to which fans becomes attached.

"The Ike Davises and so forth of the world, fans begin to establish a bond with those players," Alderson said. "Those players have upside. We're not exactly sure what that upside is. I've always had a preference for holding on to our own talent and seeing how far it can go. If it succeeds and realizes its full potential, we benefit. If it doesn't, I think we've still made the right decision in terms of our fan base.

"As far as players in that middle group [David Wright and Jose Reyes], I don't think we're going to go out actively trying to move anybody. But, at the same time, let's see what's out there. So, to that extent, I don't think anybody is untouchable. On the other hand, clearly there are a few players that represent a core for this franchise. You've got to be careful about trading those players, I think.

"Just as an aside, one of the reasons that fans like baseball is because it provides a certain consistency and continuity in their lives that maybe doesn't exist otherwise. It's important to recognize that. There's a bond that exists over time. But, at the same time, I think fans enjoy change. I mean, in our lives today there's a lot of change. I don't think we want overwhelming change, but I think fans like to know what's new. That's what we have to balance -- that desire for continuity with that desire for the next new thing. ...

"Even the great franchises in big markets, generally speaking, are also very good at player development. It's not just about being active in the free-agent market. It's about being active and smart in every market, whether that's acquiring a free agent, retaining one of your own players, looking at the six-year free agent market, developing players. I think the same things pertain whether you're in San Diego or New York."

Citi Field. There is no intention to change the stadium's spacious dimensions, although Alderson reaffirmed his commitment to espousing high on-base percentage and noted the importance of the home run.

"My own feeling as a fan is that offense sells," Alderson said. "But does that mean there will be changes to this ballpark? Certainly not in the foreseeable future as far as I'm concerned. I've only walked the park once, but I do come from a ballpark -- San Diego -- where the same challenges existed. We took a look at the dimensions there. We made some modest changes, but not significant ones. And the other thing I would point out is that the fans in San Diego fell in love with that ballpark and its dimensions, and the quality and type of play in that ballpark versus other places. ... This is such a beautiful ballpark and architecturally so stunning that even that would be a consideration starting to move things around."

Cliff Welch/Icon SMI
Sandy Alderson said he suspected Jose Canseco (above) of using steroids, but not fellow A's slugger Mark McGwire.

Oakland steroid use.

"I've discussed this subject in front of Congress, done it on '60 Minutes.' I've talked to George Mitchell about it," Alderson said. "It was hard to avoid it in light of the Jose Canseco book. In a nutshell, I suspected Jose Canseco of using steroids. I never suspected Mark McGwire. It was at a time as an organization we actually had begun to emphasize weight training as part of our regimen, which is now I think a very widespread commitment on the part of baseball. But, nonetheless, it was new at that time and may have inadvertently gotten us involved with that steroid aspect of weight training and bodybuilding.

"We actually had a very active minor league drug policy at the time that included a prohibition on amphetamines. But I think also you're talking about a time, late '80s, when this issue was emerging. It was emergent. Certainly in a general sense, in a personal sense, there was a lack of awareness, a lack of knowledge and ultimately a lack of tools to deal with the problem. We actually considered drug testing certain players. We acquired the specimen kits. We identified a lab. But, ultimately, we decided it would have been illegal in the state of California and also would have been a violation of the collective bargaining agreement.

"If you go back and sort of put all of that in perspective, do I wish I had done more? I think that's almost always true in retrospect with almost anything that we experience."

Releasing players with guaranteed contracts. (Obviously, the reference was to Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo.) Ownership expressed a willingness to eat money.

"We sort of know who you're talking about," Jeff Wilpon said.

Said Fred Wilpon: "And, by the way, there may other 'hits' that he comes up with -- not only the obvious ones."

Jeff Wilpon reiterated that Omar Minaya never requested releasing Perez or Castillo.

"We said, 'Do you want to think about it?'" Jeff Wilpon said. "But it never came up to the point of, OK, we should release this guy today."

Omar Minaya. The ex-GM, who is under contract for two more seasons, remains in limbo as far as returning. There is no definitive decision either way, and none is expected soon.

"He's going to wait it out until Sandy gets a real handle on what's here, what he might need and what the role might be," Jeff Wilpon said. "There's no real additional status."

Hisanori Takahashi. The deadline to re-sign him has been extended until Nov. 5. It previously was this Sunday. If the Mets do not reach an agreement by then, Takahashi essentially is a goner, since the Mets could not re-sign him and use him in the majors until May 15.

"We're looking at it," Alderson said. "Takahashi did a good job ... at the end of the season, did a nice job out of the pen. Talk about flexibility, and here's a guy that can -- maybe not as effectively -- but can start, can relieve. There's a lot of value in that. We're going to look at it hard. On the other hand, we have to make a judgment about what we think he's worth. The problem is that if we don't do something relatively soon then we're out of the mix permanently. But he knows that, too. So we'll see. I think Arn Tellem is representing him now. I've known Arn a long time, and we'll talk to him and see where we are."

Slotting system/draft. Major League Baseball recommends signing bonuses based on a prospect's draft position. The Mets try to be good MLB citizens and adhere to that system, but that appears as though it will change under Alderson and they will spend more than the recommended amount to exploit the system, as other big-market clubs do. Sometimes, attractive players fall because of fears about their contract demands, and the Mets may now be in position to take advantage of that.

"Where he makes a decision that we should go after a player that may be different than the slot says, we're going to follow that," Fred Wilpon said.

Said Jeff Wilpon: "I think we've gone over quite a bit. Maybe we didn't go for that reach player, and that certainly might change."

Saul Katz. Fred Wilpon explained the role of his brother-in-law as team president as: "Saul has been my partner for 50 years or more. He happens to be my best friend. We are collaborative on everything. He's not active here at the Mets in a sense like Jeff and I are. Jeff is active here every day. I'm on the phone with him, and I'm more supervisory as opposed to the COO. ... Saul takes the leadership position on one or two of our other businesses. I collaborate with him on that. He's a brilliant guy that has opinions about things and has a great deal of experience in terms of financial aspects -- the refinancings and things of that nature. So that's where he concentrates."

Jeff Wilpon's role. "My role hasn't changed," Jeff Wilpon said. "I mean, your perception of my role is probably not what my role really is. Your perception of the role, and the fan-base perception, is not correct. So my role has not changed. Does it become easier with a Sandy here? Absolutely, because he can do more things, and is more competent at certain things, that Omar might have needed more help with."

Latest missive from Fred, Jeff & Uncle Saul

October, 29, 2010
In their latest message to fans this morning, Jeff Wilpon is joined by principal owner Fred Wilpon and president Saul Katz in writing via e-mail:

We are pleased to announce we have hired Sandy Alderson as the new general manager of the New York Mets. We realize this is a critical time for the future of this organization and we are confident Sandy is the right person to reinvigorate this franchise and produce a winning and contending team for the long term. Sandy has led clubs to a world championship, three American League pennants and six division titles. He has served as general manager, president and chief executive officer of teams and also an executive vice president at the commissioner's office. ... This is the first step of many in our continuing efforts to follow through on our pledge to deliver a team our fans can be proud of for the short and long term. Thanks again for your support.

Fred Wilpon
Chairman & CEO

Saul Katz

Jeff Wilpon

Handicapping the Mets' next skipper

October, 28, 2010

AP Photo, US Presswire
Clint Hurdle, Bob Melvin and Wally Backman all figure to get consideration as the Mets' next manager from new GM Sandy Alderson.

While Sandy Alderson presented his thoughts on potential managerial candidates during his own interview with the organization, a team official indicated the Mets have yet to start reaching out to request permission and set up interviews.

It is widely believed Alderson would prefer a candidate with managerial experience, who will adhere to the front office’s philosophies regarding a distaste for bunting and giving up outs, as well as someone with New York ties.

Here are potential candidates:

Wally Backman. Backman, the fiery '86 Met, very likely will get an interview. But organization insiders predict he's just as unlikely to be the actual hire. Backman managed the Brooklyn Cyclones to the New York-Penn League championship series this season after a five-year exile from affiliated baseball.

Al Bello/Getty Images
Lee Mazzilli is among a host of current and former Mets likely to be considered for the skipper job.

Terry Collins. Collins is an organization favorite, and may very well be best suited remaining in his role overseeing the Mets' farm system. Still, Collins has experience managing the Astros (1994-96) and Angels (1997-99). He went 444-434 during that six-year span.

Chip Hale. The 45-year-old Hale made an instant positive impression in his first year as third base coach because of his preparation and work ethic. He and pitching coach Dan Warthen are likely to be on the 2011 staff in some capacity.

Clint Hurdle. Currently the hitting coach for the Texas Rangers, Hurdle has Mets ties, having appeared as a player with the organization in 1985 and '87. He managed Colorado from 2002-09, including skippering the incredible '07 late-season run that eventually landed the Rockies in the World Series. Hurdle has a connection to Alderson via Jay Alves, a current Rockies VP who formerly worked in Oakland.

Lee Mazzilli. Brooklyn-raised and an ex-Met, he also has experience as a major league manager, with Baltimore. Mazzilli remains close to Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon.

Bob Melvin. Reportedly a finalist for the Milwaukee Brewers managerial job, Melvin spent the season as an AL scout for the Mets. He already has an apartment and spends his winters in Manhattan, because his daughter, now an actress, attended college in the city. He's also highly intelligent, which is a match for Alderson. Melvin managed the Seattle Mariners (2003-04) and Arizona Diamondbacks (2005-09).

Ken Oberkfell. A former major league infielder for the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves, the likable Oberkfell has managed the Mets' Triple-A affiliate through stops in Norfolk, New Orleans and now Buffalo. Oberkfell is again managing Escogido in the Dominican Republic this winter. Last year, he led that squad to the Caribbean Series title.

Sources: Alderson gets four-year deal

October, 28, 2010
Sandy Alderson has received a four-year deal from the Mets to serve as general manager, two sources with knowledge of the pact told

Alderson, 62, is scheduled to be introduced at 2 p.m. Friday at Citi Field.

Darling, ex-A's pitcher too, praises Alderson

October, 28, 2010

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Ron Darling pitches for Sandy Alderson's Oakland Athletics in 1991.

Ron Darling is linked to the Mets, but he also spent five seasons as an Oakland A’s pitcher, from 1991-95, while Sandy Alderson was GM of that franchise.

And Darling praises the hiring of Alderson:

“Sandy is a guy that you admire from the second you meet him. Without getting too crazy about it, he’s one of those guys that you aspire to be. I had not known about his history when I first met him -- what he had done in his life, the Marines and all that kind of stuff. So I just met him as the GM. Two things rang true to me: One is that he’s incredibly intelligent, which I’m always attracted to. But also, he’s been a mentor for a lot of people who have gone on to bigger and better things. He played a big part in the maturation of Tony La Russa as a manager, Billy Beane, of course. Walt Jocketty. There are so many people he had a huge influence with. And, also, I think he served as a huge bridge between players and management. The Haas [ownership] family [in Oakland at the time] couldn’t be any nicer. They were the nicest family you’ll ever meet. Sandy was a great conduit between them and the players.

“His impact will be instant credibility, instant honesty. I think that if you ask a question he can’t answer, he won’t give an answer to it. If he can answer it, you’ll get a thoughtful, honest answer. I also think he’s got to be so comfortable in where he’s at in his life right now. I mean, he’s been a GM. He’s worked for Major League Baseball. He’s spent a lot of time in the Dominican Republic. He’s worn so many hats by now that he really brings to the Mets, I would think, the most well-rounded general manager any team could ever have. The Mets are getting a baseball renaissance man, if you want to use those words. I’ve always been an admirer to him, and even when I wasn’t pitching well always aspiring to make him proud.

“I think it’s going to be a different type of regime. I think in Omar [Minaya] you couldn’t get a nicer person as far as how he was to the ballplayers. This is going to be back to the old-school days, the Frank Cashen days. To me, when Frank Cashen called you into the office it was because you were in trouble. He knows how to be friendly to the players, but I think his job is going to be, first and foremost, putting what he thinks is going to be the right mix and match.

“You watch all these teams in the playoffs and the World Series, you don’t need a lot of tweaking to make it work. If you look at the Giants and the Rangers teams, I think in the past you’ve had teams that disliked each other and won. I don’t think that can work in today’s game. I think you really need to have those kind of misfits the Giants have, kind of have the silliness the Rangers have, the camaraderie with the ginger ale. It was less important in tougher times when athletes appeared to be tougher -- not tougher as far as playing, but as far as being more grittier. I think it’s important for teams to like each other, and I think that Sandy will have an opportunity to maybe make five or six moves that will get the Mets to a certain place, especially now that somewhat of a shine is off the Phillies.”

Mets call press conference for Friday, 2 p.m.

October, 28, 2010
Sandy Alderson's introduction as Mets GM is scheduled for Friday at 2 p.m. at Citi Field, the team announced.

The list of previous GMs:

George Weiss, 1962-66
Bing Devine, 1967
Johnny Murphy, 1968-69
Bob Scheffing, 1970-74
Joe McDonald, 1975-79
Frank Cashen, 1980-91
Al Harazin, 1992-93
Joe McIlvaine, 1993-97
Steve Phillips, 1997-2003
Jim Duquette, 2003-04
Omar Minaya, 2004-2010

'B' rating good for Feliciano

October, 28, 2010
Pedro Feliciano officially is a Type B free agent, a major victory for him in maximizing his dollars as a free agent.

If the Mets offer arbitration to Feliciano and he subsequently signs elsewhere, the Mets would pick up a supplemental pick between the first and second rounds. But that pick is created out of thin air and is not transferred from the signing team to the Mets.

Had Feliciano been a Type A free agent, the signing team would have been in jeopardy of forfeiting a first-round pick. That could have dramatically lessened the bidding for the situational left-hander.

Feliciano earned $2.9 million this year, so it's not a foregone conclusion the Mets would risk offering him arbitration to pick up an extra pick. If Feliciano ultimately decided to accept the Mets' arbitration offer, he could be in for a substantial raise on a one-year deal.

The Elias Sports Bureau produces the data based on statistical performances of players over the previous two seasons.

Notable Type A free agents include: Carl Crawford, Adam Dunn, Cliff Lee, Derrek Lee, Ted Lilly, Victor Martinez, Carl Pavano and Jayson Werth.

Some big recent left-handed reliever paydays:

J.C. Romero, Philadelphia Phillies, three years, $12 million in November 2007, with $4.5 million club option for 2011

Mike Gonzalez, Baltimore Orioles, two years, $12 million in December 2009.

Damaso Marte, New York Yankees, three years, $12 million in November 2008, with $4 million option for 2012.

Jamie Walker, Baltimore Orioles, three years, $12 million in November 2006.

Jeremy Affeldt, San Francisco Giants, two years, $9.5 million in March 2010, with $5 million option for 2012.

Ron Mahay, Kansas City Royals, two years, $8 million in December 2007.

No movement yet on manager, Citi walls

October, 28, 2010
Sandy Alderson offered potential managerial candidates during his meetings with the Mets prior to being hired, but the process of getting permission and setting up interviews has not yet started, according to an organization source.

The consensus is that Alderson is more likely to hire a manager who has prior experience, is willing to follow a front-office-dictated plan and has Mets ties.

A list of logical candidates might include (although not all meet every criteria): Chip Hale, Clint Hurdle, Lee Mazzilli, Bob Melvin and Ken Oberkfell.

• Mets ownership is on the record suggesting they have no intention of altering the dimensions of Citi Field, but would amend that plan if a new GM came in that felt strongly otherwise. Word is that Alderson did not offer any complaints about the dimensions during his interviews, which suggests Citi Field will look the same in 2011. Still, Alderson has not offered any public thoughts on the subject. He was CEO of the San Diego Padres, who play in ultra-spacious Petco Park.

• Various reports indicate Paul DePodesta is a consideration to join Alderson in the Mets' front office. DePodesta is executive vice president of the Padres.

Winter ball participation list

October, 28, 2010
Here's a list supplied by the Mets of organization players involved in various winter leagues at the moment:

Arizona Fall League

Nick Carr, RHP
Robert Carson, LHP
Kai Gronauer, C
Brad Holt, RHP
Eric Niesen, LHP
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF
Josh Satin, INF
Jordany Valdespin, INF


Joaquin Arias, INF
Yhency Brazoban, RHP
Jeurys Familia, RHP
Daniel Murphy, INF
Mike O’Connor, LHP
Francisco Pena, C
Elvin Ramirez, RHP
Armando Rodriguez, RHP


Juan Carlos Gamboa, INF

Puerto Rico

Alex Cintron, INF
Jose De La Torre, RHP
Jesus Feliciano, OF
Brahiam Maldonado, OF
Jorge Padilla, OF
Omir Santos, C


Manuel Alvarez, RHP
Henry Blanco, C
Eric Campbell, INF
Jose Coronado, INF
Wilmer Flores, INF
Marcos Tabata, RHP
Jhonathan Torres, LHP

Deadline extension for Takahashi in works

October, 28, 2010
Arn Tellem, the new agent for Hisanori Takahashi, indicated Thursday that the looming deadline the Mets face for completing negotiations with the Japanese left-hander may be extended.

When Takahashi signed in March, the Mets agreed to make him a free agent on Oct. 31 if an extension had not been worked out. However, if Takahashi were to be cut loose on Sunday per that agreement, he could not re-sign and appear in the majors for the Mets until May 15 -- essentially meaning he would have to sign elsewhere.

"We are in discussions with the Mets to extend the negotiating deadline with them," Tellem told via e-mail.

Takahashi switched agents from New York-based Peter and Ed Greenberg this week.

The inclination to extend the negotiating deadline with the Mets is a positive development in the likelihood Takahashi remains with the club.

A Mets insider said of the agent switch: "We can offer what we are going to offer, so not sure it matters much. Since he's switching to a guy we work well with, it should not matter and simply be a matter of years and dollars."

UPDATE: The sides reportedly have completed the extension of the deadline, giving the Mets breathing room to complete a deal.

Alderson and the steroid culture

October, 27, 2010
Sandy Alderson presided over the Oakland A's teams that included Jose Canseco and Mark McMcGwire and became infamous for the use of performance-enhacing substances. ESPNNewYork's Ian O'Connor tackles that issue here.

Takahashi switches agents

October, 27, 2010

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Hisanori Takahashi could be leaving the Mets as a free agent.

With four days until the Sunday deadline when Hisanori Takahashi is due to become a free agent, the left-hander has switched agents, an indication he may be ready to shop his services. Takahashi has signed up with Arn Tellem, who has represented several Japanese players, including Hideki Matsui.

Takahashi formerly was represented by New York-based Peter and Ed Greenberg, who have a strong working relationship with the Mets and who also represent Johan Santana and Jose Reyes.

When Takahashi signed a minor-league deal with the Mets in February, the organization agreed to make him a free agent on Oct. 31 if he was unsigned to an extension. If Takahashi is cut loose on Sunday per that obligation, he would be prohibited from re-signing with the Mets and appearing in the majors before May 15.

So, in essence, assuming Takahashi is cut loose, he is highly unlikely to return. Takahashi's versatility as a reliever and starter could be particularly valuable. The Mets already could lose the other left-hander in the bullpen, Pedro Feliciano, as a free agent.

Newsday tweeted about the agent switch Wednesday.

Toxicology report -- bad contracts to swap

October, 27, 2010

US Presswire
Luis Castillo (left) is owed $6 million in 2011. Oliver Perez (right) is owed $12 million. It will be a chore for Sandy Alderson to find matching bad contracts to swap for them.

When Sandy Alderson gets down to business, reshaping the roster will be one primary task. And Alderson will have his work cut out for him in finding takers for Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, who are owed $12 million and $6 million respectively in the final years of their deals in 2011.

The Mets also could look into trading Carlos Beltran, who is owed $18.5 million in 2011. Yet with Beltran’s contract expiring after next season, and given the amount the Mets would have to subsidize in a trade because of Beltran’s balky knees, perhaps it’s just best to hold onto the center fielder and see what he can produce in a walk year.

Finally, there’s Francisco Rodriguez, whose grievance has been resolved. It would seem likely the Mets ride it out with the closer. Could they find a taker for his contract? K-Rod is owed $11.5 million is 2011. His contract would vest for the following season at $17.5 million if he finishes 55 games and stays healthy. Otherwise, he gets a $3.5 million buyout.

Here’s a team-by-team breakdown of the big contracts major league clubs may look to move this offseason. If the Mets are to match bad contracts, it may come from the list of players below.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES: Left-handed reliever Michael Gonzalez has one year, $6 million remaining on an original two-year, $12 million deal signed last offseason. However, with Koji Uehara a pending free agent who may or may not be re-signed depending on the cost, Gonzalez could be considered the top closing candidate if the season were to start soon. When healthy, Gonzalez was reasonably effective. So while Baltimore conceivably could move Gonzalez, it is not a case in which there is motivation to swap the southpaw for another bad contract. Actually, the O’s largely have gotten out from under their bad contracts. The two remaining long-term deals are for right fielder Nick Markakis, their top performer, and second baseman Brian Roberts. Roberts has three years, $30 million remaining on his deal. While that may look onerous because he was limited to 59 games this past season because of the herniated disc in his back, he was effective once he returned in late July. Roberts also has a fan in owner Peter Angelos.

BOSTON RED SOX: Contingent upon what the Sox do in the outfield this offseason, ex-Met Mike Cameron could be a handsomely paid fourth outfielder at $7.25 million. Daisuke Matsuzaka (9-6, 4.69 ERA) is owed $10 million each of the next two seasons. Right fielder J.D. Drew has $14 million owed in 2011, in the final year of his five-year, $70 million contract. Drew’s modest 2010 numbers, at least when compared with previous production: .255, 22 HR, 68 RBIs.

NEW YORK YANKEES: Javier Vazquez’s contract, which paid him $11.5 million this season, is coming off the books, but fellow right-hander A.J. Burnett’s contract remains. Burnett (10-15, 5.26 ERA) is owed $16.5 million annually through 2013 and has a partial no-trade clause.

TAMPA BAY RAYS: No apparent albatross match, with the most unfavorable contract perhaps the $3.3 million owed to catcher Kelly Shoppach in 2011 with a buyout of the following season’s option. Shoppach hit .196 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 158 at-bats. The only long-term deals are with third baseman Evan Longoria, right-hander James Shields and right fielder Ben Zobrist -- and those are primarily via options. Zobrist (.238, 10 HR, 75 RBIs) does have three years remaining at $14.5 million, plus a $2.5 million buyout.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS: Center fielder Vernon Wells is owed a whopping $86 million over the next four years and has a no-trade clause based on an extension signed during the 2006-07 offseason. Wells, 31, hit .273 with 31 homers and 88 RBIs in 157 games.


CHICAGO WHITE SOX: Right-handed reliever Scott Linebrink is owed $5.5 million next season. He went 3-2 with a 4.40 ERA in 52 relief appearances.

CLEVELAND INDIANS: Travis Hafner is owed $13 million each of the next two seasons, plus a $2.75 million buyout of a team option for 2013. While the Indians would love to shed the salary, there is a limited market for a DH with diminished power and recent injury issues. Hafner hit .278 with 13 homers and 50 RBIs in 396 at-bats.

DETROIT TIGERS: Carlos Guillen is on the books for one more season at $13 million, has health issues and may need to spend the bulk of his time at DH rather than second base. Otherwise, the Tigers’ bevy of bad contracts have expired.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS: Right-hander Gil Meche is owed $12.4 million next season and has shoulder issues that have prompted him to shift to a set-up reliever role. Still, the Royals wouldn’t entertain trading the Mets’ unusable parts for him when engaged last summer. Right-hander Zack Greinke ($27 million over the next two seasons) and Rutgers product David DeJesus ($6 million in his final year) both are available via trade, particularly the outfielder DeJesus, but neither falls into the category of a contract to be dumped.

MINNESOTA TWINS: First baseman Justin Morneau has three years, $42 million remaining, but that’s a non-issue assuming he successfully returns from a concussion. Right-handers Nick Blackburn (three years, $13 million remaining) and Scott Baker (two years, $11.5 million) have deals that exceed their actual value, especially while both recover from arthroscopic elbow surgeries, but they don’t fall into the albatross-contract category.


LOS ANGELES ANGELS: The Mets already have taken two of the biggest albatrosses in Angels history in the past decade -- Mo Vaughn and Gary Matthews Jr., although L.A. kicked in $21.5 million of the $23.5 million owed to Matthews. The Angels’ current bloated contracts: old friend Scott Kazmir and left fielder Juan Rivera. Kazmir produced a 9-15 record and 5.94 ERA in 28 starts, but could be salvageable. He is owed $12 million in 2011 and has an option for 2012 at $13.5 million, or a $2.5 million buyout. Rivera wore out his welcome after signing a three-year, $12.75 million deal before the 2009 season. He is owed $5.25 million next season, in the final year of that deal, and is a prime trade target to free up dollars for the pursuit of Carl Crawford, Adrian Beltre or the like. Catcher Mike Napoli and second baseman Howard Kendrick, both of whom are arbitration-eligible, are prime trade candidates as well because the Angels already have more than $120 million committed to payroll once arbitration awards are sorted out, and they’d like to be aggressive in free agency.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS: Incoming GM Sandy Alderson is Oakland GM Billy Beane’s mentor. Too bad there aren’t big contracts in Oakland for them to discuss swapping.

SEATTLE MARINERS: Second baseman Chone Figgins has $26 million remaining over three years and Seattle would willingly entertain offers. Still, the Mariners are not so down on him as to expect nothing in return. The biggest albatross: left fielder Milton Bradley (.205, 8 HR, 29 RBIs in 244 at-bats), who has one year left at $12 million and no great relationship with incoming manager Eric Wedge from their Cleveland days. Shortstop Jack Wilson also has one year remaining at $5 million and no use.

TEXAS RANGERS: The worst contract had been right-hander Rich Harden, but he was released this month and the Rangers will buy him out for $1 million. Right-hander Scott Feldman's deal isn't ideal at $11.5 million guaranteed through 2012 considering he went 7-11 with a 5.48 ERA. Still, he was a 17-game winner the previous season. While third baseman Michael Young is overpaid at $16 million a season through 2013, there is no indication there is a desire to move him.


ATLANTA BRAVES: With no room for right-hander Kenshin Kawakami in the rotation and one year remaining on his contract at $6.8 million, the Braves are attempting to get a Japanese team interested in taking on at least part of the amount owed for his rights. Right-hander Derek Lowe is owed $30 million over next two seasons, midway through a four-year, $60 million deal. While that might have been considered an albatross a year ago, Lowe’s solid finish in 2010 (5-0, 1.17 ERA in September) changed that outlook, even if the Braves would consider swapping him for another starting pitcher. Third baseman Chipper Jones is owed $28 million through 2012. Still, there’s no chance another Braves icon follows the migration of Tom Glavine from Atlanta to New York. Jones is coming off ACL surgery anyway, which would scare away trading partners.

FLORIDA MARLINS: No match here. Only three Marlins are under contract for next season: Hanley Ramirez, Josh Johnson and Wes Helms. Ramirez and Johnson are the stars. Helms will make only $1 million in 2011 and is a nonissue. Florida does need left-handed bullpen help, so Perez conceivably could be of interest if the Mets eat just about the entire contract.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES: The Phillies had bad contracts in their recent history, such as to Adam Eaton and Geoff Jenkins, but nothing like that exists right now. They would move left fielder Raul Ibanez ($11.5 million next season) and possibly right-hander Joe Blanton ($17 million over next the two seasons) if the right situation presented itself, but Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro isn’t desperate to trade either.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS: Right-hander Jason Marquis went 2-9 with a 6.60 ERA in 13 starts this past season and is due to make $7.5 million next year. The Nats would trade him, but not as an outright dump. Marquis first should be given an opportunity to pitch next season and try to prove the subpar production was related to bone chips that were surgically removed. Other than Marquis, the other locked-up players -- Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper -- all are cornerstone building blocks.


CHICAGO CUBS: Top candidates in the bad-contract department: right fielder Kosuke Fukudome and right-hander Carlos Silva. Fukudome (.263, 13 HR, 44 RBIs in 358 at-bats) is owed $13.5 million next season. Silva (10-6, 4.22 ERA), who dealt with heart and elbow issues, is owed $11.5 million next season, plus the $2 million buyout of a 2012 mutual option. Carlos Zambrano ($35.875 million over the next two years) now indicates he won’t waive a no-trade clause.

CINCINNATI REDS: Closer Francisco Cordero (6-5, 3.84 ERA, 40 saves) is owed $12 million next year. Otherwise, nothing notable as far as large contracts.

HOUSTON ASTROS: Few Astros have any big money remaining on their contracts. Left fielder Carlos Lee is the exception with two years remaining at $18.5 million per season. Lee would be a trade candidate for salary relief. The only other notable contracts on the books: Brett Myers, who signed an extension during the season and is in the Astros’ plans, and Brandon Lyon (two years left at $5 million apiece). Lyon is a major part of the bullpen plans and would not be likely to depart.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS: Milwaukee’s albatross contract to Jeff Suppan has expired. The Brewers are on the hook with left-hander Randy Wolf for two more years at a combined $20.5 million including a 2013 buyout, but the southpaw is not a dump candidate. Wolf went 13-12 with a 4.17 ERA.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES: The Pirates would willingly trade Ryan Doumit, who is due $5.1M in 2011, plus a $500,000 buyout of two option years. The switch-hitting catcher/outfielder/first baseman hit .251 with 13 homers and 45 RBIs in 406 at-bats.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: Right-hander Kyle Lohse (4-8, 6.55 ERA) qualifies as the Cardinals’ bad contract with $23.75 million owed over the next two years, but the organization is not willing to classify it that way just yet. Lohse has not been healthy in the first two years of the deal.


ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: Nothing to speak of. Third baseman Mark Reynolds isn't an ideal contract after his underwhelming season (.198, 32 HR, 85 RBIs), but his contract -- $5 million in 2011, $7.5 million in '12 -- isn’t horrific.

COLORADO ROCKIES: Right-hander Aaron Cook and first baseman Todd Helton are the two remaining bad contracts. Cook (6-8, 5.08 ERA) is owed $9.75 million when a 2012 buyout is factored in. Helton is owed considerably more than $20 million when deferred money is included. He has a no-trade clause.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS: Most of the Dodgers’ bad contracts have expired, except for deferred money owed to Manny Ramirez over the next three years. The closest things L.A. has to bloated contracts are for closer Jonathan Broxton ($7 million in 2011) and center fielder Matt Kemp ($7.1 million), but those are arbitration-eligible players who had been locked up and who are simply coming off substandard seasons with the opportunity to bounce back.

SAN DIEGO PADRES: First-year GM Jed Hoyer didn’t inherit bloated contracts from predecessor Kevin Towers in money or length. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez will have his 2011 option for $6.2 million exercised, while closer Heath Bell and right fielder Ryan Ludwick (both arbitration-eligible) will earn in the $7 million to $8 million range next season. Nothing qualifies in the Perez/Castillo category.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: Left-hander Barry Zito (9-14, 4.15 ERA) is owed $57.5 million over the next three seasons and cannot crack a postseason roster. Meanwhile, center fielder Aaron Rowand (.230, 11 HR, 34 RBIs in 331 at-bats) is owed $24 million over the next two seasons.

Thanks to writers scattered throughout the country for their assistance in putting together this list: Jeff Zrebiec, Baltimore Sun; Gordon Edes,; Andrew Marchand,; Marc Topkin, St. Petersburg Times; Jeff Blair, Globe and Mail; Joe Cowley, Chicago Sun-Times; Paul Hoynes, Plain Dealer; Tom Gage, Detroit News; Bob Dutton, Kansas City Star; Joe Christensen, Minneapolis Star Tribune; Bill Plunkett, Orange County Register; Susan Slusser, San Francisco Chronicle; Jim Caple,; Richard Durrett,; David O’Brien, Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Clark Spencer, Miami Herald; Todd Zolecki,; David Murphy, Philadelphia Daily News; Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider; Paul Sulivan, Chicago Tribune; John Fay, Cincinnati Enquirer; Zachary Levine, Houston Chronicle; Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel; Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Derrick Goold, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Nick Piecoro, Arizona Republic; Troy Renck; Denver Post; Tony Jackson,; Corey Brock,



Lucas Duda
.323 2 11 10
HRW. Flores 3
RBIL. Duda 11
RC. Granderson 12
OPSL. Duda .923
WB. Colon 4
ERAJ. Niese 1.50
SOM. Harvey 31